Florida vs. Southern, Game Thread: Gators, Jaguars set for rare Monday clash

Sam Greenwood

Florida doesn't play many games on Mondays. Southern doesn't play many teams as good as Florida.

Florida takes on Southern tonight from the O'Connell Center at 7 p.m., and you can catch the game live on Sun Sports, if you have it. If you don't, you're headed to ESPN3, where another Florida game is blacked out in SEC states, or to GatorVision, where the game's available to premium account-holders.

In any case, it'll be a rare opportunity to play two games in about a 48-hour period for the Gators, a rare Monday game for Florida, and a rare game against a great team for Southern, last year's SWAC champions. Florida doesn't have another two-day turnaround until January, when the Gators have them on back-to-back weekends in SEC play, and plays just twice more on Mondays this season, with both games — against Jacksonville on November 25 and Connecticut on December 2 — coming in the next two weeks.

Southern, meanwhile, is this year's SWAC representative in the five-team round-robin competition that Florida is part of to allow it to schedule as many games as it does. (I don't even know that competition's name this year, but it features the Gators, Arkansas-Little Rock, Middle Tennessee State, North Florida, and Southern.) And the Jaguars are playing just their third game against a team in the KenPom top 10 in five years. Previous outings against Gonzaga in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and Baylor to tip off the 2009-10 season ended in defeat for the Jaguars, but given that the SWAC is perennially the worst basketball conference in Division I, the relatively small margins of defeat in those games (six points to the 'Zags in a No. 1 vs. No. 16 battle; 16 points to Baylor) actually bode well for the Jags in Gainesville tonight.

There's one big problem, though: While Southern has sharpshooter Malcolm Miller, the SWAC's best player, it also ranks No. 344 (of 351 D-1 teams) in free throws allowed per field goal attempt, and Southern's opponents have shot an astounding 183 free throws in four games this season. Miller's great, and is shooting 38.7 percent from beyond the arc, but he's not great enough to cover for a team of limited defenders, especially because he's actually shooting 36.8 percent on his twos.

Florida should probably just feed Casey Prather and Dorian Finney-Smith all night and let them go to work driving to the basket. Prather's making two of every three shots he takes so far, and Finney-Smith had a fine Florida debutagainst Little Rock on Saturday, scoring 17 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and flashing a better-than-expected stroke from deep on his three made threes in four attempts.

Failing that, letting Kasey Hill and Patric Young try to finish at the rim probably wouldn't hurt, either. Those two Gators, along with Finney-Smith and Prather, are drawing more than five fouls per 40 minutes, and could well exploit the Jags' foul-happy defense.

I'll be in the comments and on Twitter for the duration of the game, and I hope you join me in both places.

Star-divide

Andy Hutchins is Alligator Army's managing editor. Follow Alligator Army on Twitter and Facebook.

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